How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Potluck Party

potluckIt's a cool early evening as the friends gather for a casual potluck dinner. The sun sets with brilliant colors, children frolic, parents laugh softly over their beers and lemonade. And then -- That Guest arrives. The dreadful, potluck-spoiling Banshee of Bad Times.

Don't let That Guest be you.


How do you ruin a potluck party? Let me count the ways.

1. You're assigned to bring dessert and you bring cheese because "that's what the Europeans do." We get it, that year abroad 10 years ago changed you forever and now you're Carla Bruni. But guess what? Even the French eat dessert! Now quit trying to civilize the barbarians and bring us some f@#$ing chocolate mousse.

2. You bring uninvited, hungry, empty-handed tag-alongs. Okay, every so often a friend or relative drops into town unexpectedly when you have plans. And you say, hey, what's one more? One more polite guest who eats moderately and then stays after to do the dishes is welcome. The human vacuum cleaner who sucks in eight chicken legs, a bowl of potato salad, and half a grasshopper pie is not.

3. Your contribution is teeny. Yes indeed, that little blueberry tart is a work of art! If only you had made about 10 more.

4. You bring rejected leftovers. So, your first attempt at gumbo reveals you are capable of simultaneously burning and under-cooking rice. Your family hated it -- what makes you think we'll like it better? I'm sorry, but it does not deserve a second chance at love. 

5. You bring a seafood lime jello salad. I know that cute lobster-shaped gelatin mold is inspiring and you have all those cans of tuna, but trust me on this one. I pulled this once and barely escaped with my life.

6. You bring your favorite dish/knife/spatula and then whine at the end because it's gone missing. There is always a 50 percent chance that you will lose some equipment at the potluck, so leave your silver at home. Also, please forget what I said about once making a seafood lime jello salad. Why would I make something so gross? I so did not do that.

7. You lean on one end of what turns out to be a flimsy table. Yeah, a cascade of sliding salads and casseroles looks hi-larious on YouTube, but we will all starve. And we will be lying when we say, "Oh that's okay, accidents happen!" Just stand up straight.

8. Okay, fine, I did make that seafood lime jello salad.

9. But I was a teenager and why did my mother not stop me?

10. You deliver back-handed compliments on everyone else's dishes. "Oh Rosa, I guess we can always count on you to bring your super-spicy Mexican food. What is this called again, inch-ay-la-diss?" "Golly Susan, you went through all that trouble to make a pie crust from scratch. You know, those pre-made crusts are so easy and just as good." Boo, stay home! 

Come to the potluck with love and bring your favorite, simple, go-to dish. That's all you have to do.

What's your idea of a potluck guest from hell?

Image via JoePhoto/Flickr

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